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China Erases New Internet Rumors, Shuts Down Sites

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  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday April 13, 2012 @03:14PM (#39677907)

    They are blocking free speech by users. Surely there must be some "twinge" in their brains that says, "This is wrong to take down people's posts."

    I find it a bit disturbing that EU and US leaders are saying China is a good model to follow.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I'm in two minds, because the rumours highlighted in the summary specifically seem orientated toward creating panic and unrest within a large population - how do you deal with that while maintaining free speech?

      • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday April 13, 2012 @03:26PM (#39678067)

        Don't censor free speech. The adult citizens should be intelligent enough to realize the rumors are just lies, and develop skepticism about the things they read.

        • by trum4n (982031) on Friday April 13, 2012 @03:35PM (#39678187)
          Except the average person is a complete moron. Remember that.
          • Except the average person is a complete moron. Remember that.

            Except that the average bureaucrat is a complete moron. Remember that.

            ~Loyal

          • by Hatta (162192)

            Education of the populace is the responsibility of government. If your people aren't educated enough to fight speech with speech, educate them more. Curtailing free speech is never an option.

            • Education of the populace is the responsibility of government.

              You know what they say about good intentions. I would contend that, no, it ISNT the responsibility of the government, but ultimately of the individual / whoever is responsible for their welfare (which isnt the government).

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by rednip (186217)

          The adult citizens should be intelligent enough to realize the rumors are just lies, and develop skepticism about the things they read.

          After a while one would think that people would stop watching fictionalized reports, but Fox News and talk radio proves that there will always be a market for yellow journalism no matter how discredited they may become. However the Chinese leaders should understand that one of the reasons why rumors spread so intensely is a serious lack of objective non-government infotainment that would keep the public informed if/when the people again try to rise up for democracy. The quick spread of such rumors might e

          • by readin (838620)

            The adult citizens should be intelligent enough to realize the rumors are just lies, and develop skepticism about the things they read.

            After a while one would think that people would stop watching fictionalized reports, but Fox News and talk radio proves that there will always be a market for yellow journalism no matter how discredited they may become.

            Actually, Fox News' success was a result of intelligent people being fed up with the distortion coming from the left-wing news sources. It does seem that Fox News has gone way overboard, and in response some new left-wing networks (MSNBC) have gone way overboard too. But we conservatives have put up with decades of left-wing bias and distortion from the major networks, PBS and most large newspapers.

            They all have bias - some more than others - but I don't see how you can say Fox News is "discredited".

          • After a while one would think that people would stop watching fictionalized reports, but Fox News and talk radio proves that there will always be a market for yellow journalism no matter how discredited they may become.

            I try not to but into these "Fox News sucks" conversations, but that takes some gall after the crap the other stations just tried to pull with the doctored Zimmerman audio samples, and I could mention several other incidents as well. Fox gets it wrong on occasion, but Im not sure Ive ever seen them doctor audio.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          The adult citizens should be intelligent enough to realize the rumors are just lies, and develop skepticism about the things they read.

          I don't know - the average American doesn't seem to inspire much confidence about that. Isn't that how we get the birther movement or that Obama is Muslim?

          Hell, there are probably people who believe that cigarettes don't cause cancer and are perfectly safe, too.

          Or take a look what happens when some blog or website posts some news or rumors about a company - it can send the s

          • by Hatta (162192)

            I don't know - the average American doesn't seem to inspire much confidence about that. Isn't that how we get the birther movement or that Obama is Muslim?

            This is the government's fault for not making critical thinking an educational priority.

        • by Hentes (2461350)

          Provided they are lies. It's hard to tell when everything's censored.

        • Right. Because if I yell "fire!" in a movie theater, adult citizens should be intelligent enough to realize I'm screwing with them. No, there are exceptions to free speech for some pretty good reasons. This may originally have been one of them, although I doubt it; 210,000 posts is a lot of "fire!" yells.

          The bigger issue here is that China is in a state where it's easy to believe these types of rumors. This free speech crackdown wouldn't be necessary in the first place if weren't so busy doing things
          • by cpu6502 (1960974)

            The fire in the theater argument was used by the Supreme Court to justify arresting anti-World War 1 protestors. In other words suppression of the 1st amendment. One of the dissenting justices said the comparison was invalid:

            - An anti-war protestor is the equivalent of a man standing OUTSIDE a theater and warning people not to go, because there's a fire and they could be killed. i.e. It is a form of protected speech, and the man should not be jailed.

            But of course neither the President nor the Congress no

            • I wasn't aware of that.. very interesting and thank you!

              But, yeah, common sense reasons for doing some things (arresting the fire-yeller) have been abused to do different things way out of the scope of the first thing (tossing the fire-yeller's family in Guantanamo) since the Patriot Act.
      • by doston (2372830)

        I'm in two minds, because the rumours highlighted in the summary specifically seem orientated toward creating panic and unrest within a large population - how do you deal with that while maintaining free speech?

        What does a large population especially have to do with anything? I always hear that excuse for everything China does and it really doesn't mean anything. Most of them don't even have Internet access. It's just another power system trying to control thought. They'd do the same here, if we let them. And China would do the same if they had 1/4 the people they have now. Look what's going on in Hungary. Is that because of the population of 10,000,000? Pathetic excuse that doesn't hold water or up to scr

      • by Dishevel (1105119)

        I'm in two minds, because the rumours highlighted in the summary specifically seem orientated toward creating panic and unrest within a large population - how do you deal with that while maintaining free speech?

        Rumors of Chemtrails, Black Helicopters, Secret societies that run our lives, and all the rest happen all the time.
        No need to over react.

      • If China had an open and free media no one would pay any attention to the rumors. For example; I heard that Washington DC is on lock down and there are riots in the street. There was an attempted coup. Do you believe any of that? Why?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Cyberblah (140887)

        I'm in two minds, because the rumours highlighted in the summary specifically seem orientated toward creating panic and unrest within a large population - how do you deal with that while maintaining free speech?

        By having free speech in the first place. These rumors can easily spread in China because a growing number of Chinese people believe that it's plausible that news of this kind of unrest could and would be suppressed by the government. The government's actions here are reinforcing that belief.

      • Governments don't try to prevent panic. They try to USE panic to their own purposes. At least the governments that really have control of their populace. 9/11 and the moves the government took after that, which had absolutely nothing to do with preventing another attack, should have amply demonstrated that fact.
      • by readin (838620)

        I'm in two minds, because the rumours highlighted in the summary specifically seem orientated toward creating panic and unrest within a large population - how do you deal with that while maintaining free speech?

        You consistently tell the people the truth so that people believe you when you deny that the rumors are true. On the other hand if you develop a reputation for saying that legitimate protests are all being caused by hooligans and foreigners, then the people won't believe you when you try to stop rumors.

        You can get away with lying about some things. Few Chinese people go to Taiwan or the South China Sea so it is easy to lie about sovereignty claims over those. But plenty of Chinese people have legitima

      • I'm in two minds, because the rumours highlighted in the summary specifically seem orientated toward creating panic and unrest within a large population - how do you deal with that while maintaining free speech?

        So, what if the "rumours" are true, and the Chinese government is trying to hide another Tiananmen Square situation?

      • If they are really rumors, in a free society they'd met a wall of evidence pointing that they are false. But once you start killing the people that say wrong things, people will stop saying anything (why risk?), and such rummors grow.

        That is, again, if they are really just rumors.

      • 1. get agents provocateurs to spread false rumours
        2. put in place a system of censorship for the SAFETY of THE PEOPLE
        3. no ???
        4. 1984!!!

        Reichstag fire anyone?

        Replying to another guy, yes china is the model to follow, if you bear in mind that evolution of society consists in upper classes, or better, bunches of people (because upper classes are kapos not masters) always trying to exert more control on all the others.

        You might still see things in red and blue, but a better model, prediction wise, seems to imp

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pla (258480)
      They are blocking free speech by users. Surely there must be some "twinge" in their brains that says, "This is wrong to take down people's posts."

      The US arrests people for slashfic of the Simpsons. Surely there must be some "twinge" in their brains that says, "This is wrong to conflate cartoons with exploited children."

      Every culture has their sacred cows. Come too close, and you get kicked.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        That was actually Australia, not the US.
        • by pla (258480)
          That was actually Australia, not the US.

          I apologize that you got modded down (though since you posted AC, I don't suppose it matters much to you except in hiding your words) - Thank you for the correction!

          Though in fairness, I would say it doesn't dilute my intended meaning too much - Still a country we would consider a modern western democracy.
    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday April 13, 2012 @03:21PM (#39678009)

      I find it a bit disturbing that EU and US leaders are saying China is a good model to follow.

      The EU, like the US, considers money to be a good thing to follow. China is making rapid improvements in its money generation. Civil liberties, not so much. But then again, with the US having the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world, I would say civil liberties are something most people only believe they have these days.

      • China also cheated by pegging the Yuan to the Dollar. That, and a cheap and abundant labor pool allowed for a flood of foreign investment. China is most certainly not a model to go by.

        You want to see an epic waste of public funding by the Chinese government? Just look up ghost cities.

        • China also cheated by pegging the Yuan to the Dollar.

          Isn't that just a guarantee that they'll buy the dollar at a guaranteed price, and a guarantee that they'll sell it at that same price, or just a little difference due to seigniorage? How is that cheating? Seriously. I don't know the actual mechanism.

          ~Loyal

          • by Anonymous Coward

            It nullifies any attempt to speculate on the Yuan on the Forex. Due to the breakneck growth of China, the Yuan would be much higher valued than it is today compared to the US dollar. This means that strength of the Yuan is kept artificially low so that exports can remain artificially cheap and also provides protectionism for China from imports that are artificially expensive.

            • It nullifies any attempt to speculate on the Yuan on the Forex.

              How do they nullify it? If I and my freind next to me speculate on the value of Yuan 6 months from now. And agree to place a bet on it. Will the Chinese govt nullify the bet (I dont live in China, just in case you were wondering)

              • It ment that the value of the yuan was tied to value of the US dollar. So nullification is in the form of a fixed exchange rate. Betting on the yuan was more or less the same as betting on the dollar and vice versa. Though because the value of the dollar has been dropping, China is experiencing inflation. This is why China is now looking to diversify so as to not be pulled under. Can't blame them really.

            • It nullifies any attempt to speculate on the Yuan on the Forex... This means that strength of the Yuan is kept artificially low so that exports can remain artificially cheap

              No, that means that the people of China will speculate on goods prices, instead of foreigners speculating on the currency value. The result is that inflation eats everything that the weak currency created, just like every time a government decides to mess with exchange rates. (And people get poorer.)

              That, of course, does not negate the c

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        If you want to point to the US incarceration rate as an argument against national policy on drugs, then fine. Conflating it with a lack of civil liberties is ridiculous.
      • Congratulations (Score:3, Interesting)

        by daveschroeder (516195) *

        You're the first person to take a story about China's egregious behavior, and turn it around on the US.

        In the first 10 posts on the story, no less. Bravo, sir. Bravo. *golf clap*

        "Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." - Winston Churchill (1874-1965), Speech in the

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      This is china. The communist party leadership are protecting themselves (and their own people, but mostly themselves) from the risks of a free flow of information. They feel no guilt, and see it as their duty to protect themselves (and sometimes the people) against these 'malicious rumours'.

      In a way china shot itself in the foot a long time ago, and doesn't have an easy way out.

      There are people in the 'press' who report anything, censorship or not in china. Just as currency controls could always be und

    • They are blocking free speech by users.

      Chinese people don't have free speech.

    • by TopSpin (753)

      Do Chinese leaders feel no guilt?

      No. They feel fear. Losing power means destruction in an authoritarian regime. You are either in power or you are subjugated by those who are. You don't lose an election and reinvent yourself. You lose your immunity from prosecution, your wealth, possibly your freedom and even your life.

      Those realities leave precious little room for subtleties like "guilt."

      I find it a bit disturbing that EU and US leaders are saying China is a good model to follow.

      That view appears [nytimes.com] among statists from time to time when liberal democracies fail to cooperate. The most vital contemporary source of support for

    • by brit74 (831798) on Friday April 13, 2012 @04:55PM (#39679303)
      They are blocking free speech by users. Surely there must be some "twinge" in their brains that says, "This is wrong to take down people's posts."

      I'm sure that the Chinese leaders and censors are doing this stuff because they believe it's for the betterment of Chinese society and China as a nation. In their view, they're removing lies that get people all stirred up, they're silencing the rebel-rousers inciting people to do something bad, the no-good / ill-informed "rebels" are harming the stability and legitimacy of the Chinese government (whom they most likely believe are doing a good job compared to all the alternatives), the "rebels" are dangerous to China's continued economic growth (which would help Chinese people in general and China's position internationally), the censors are maintaining stability and the status-quo in society and preventing an unknown and destructive anarchy. I'm betting those are the beliefs in their heads, and it would mean that they don't feel guilty about what they're doing. It doesn't actually require that Chinese censors are motivated by an evil self-interest.
    • by readin (838620)

      They are blocking free speech by users. Surely there must be some "twinge" in their brains that says, "This is wrong to take down people's posts."

      A normal person with a normal conscience would probably think that, but how far do you think you can go in the Chinese government if you have a normal conscience. The system selects for people who are willing to violate rights and lie convincingly about it - even far more so than the typical democratic system.

  • Say, have you heard? Hu Jintao came out as a closet furry today! Shhh, don't tell anyone!

    Oh yeah, and for some reason we have tanks rolling toward a bunch of hippies in Tiananmen square or something like that. Whatever.
  • Weird (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Securityemo (1407943) on Friday April 13, 2012 @03:16PM (#39677937) Journal
    Why would a government, even a repressive one, crack down on rumors for no reason? Is unfounded rumors (not actual dissent, mind, but weird stuff like this) spreading and causing actual trouble a problem in China?
    • Your sig says it all. Emotions. Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt.

      The government wants happy Pandas.

    • The rumors may not be true, but there is a shakeup in the ruling class. Some has leaked out in official releases around the sacking of Bo and his wife, but the people in power are reacting to unexpected events. Some are falling out of favor and some are trying to consolidate power. All in an environment where the loser and their families don't just retire to a quiet life in the country. It is unlikely the government will change, or there will be a popular uprising, but something is happening in the hall
    • What seems even odder to me is that they are publicizing their crackdown.

      Shouldn't they remove their own site for spreading scandalous rumors that they are cracking down on rumors?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "Why would a government, even a repressive one, crack down on rumors for no reason?"

      Maybe the messages that were erased are not what that repressive government says they are?

    • Why would a government, even a repressive one, crack down on rumors for no reason? Is unfounded rumors (not actual dissent, mind, but weird stuff like this) spreading and causing actual trouble a problem in China?

      They did it to protect the people in their charge from being misled into harmful behavior by liars. Duh!

      Lying on a grand scale causes millions of people to act contrary to what is sane and wise. When you get right down to it, intentionally and maliciously causing millions of people to act contrary to what is sane and wise causes far more harm than raping and killing a bus full of children.

      If I drove you crazy by injecting you with LSD, it would be clear to everyone that I'd assaulted you. If I do it with

    • by Koreantoast (527520) on Friday April 13, 2012 @04:08PM (#39678649)
      There were rumors of a possible coup [bbc.co.uk] by a faction of PLA officers who allegedly supported Bo Xilai, a former Politburo candidate who was sacked on allegations of corruption and murder. No real evidence, but the central government was already uneasy because such a high profile scandal has introduced significant uncertainty to their succession planning. Therefore, the Chinese government did not appreciate such rumors and speculation spreading like wildfire on the Internet.
    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Because in a controlled media rumors are the only source of sensitive information. Whether true or not, they are an information source not under the control of the government.

  • The dirty evil Chinese commie bastards
  • It was really 43 websites. But you didn't hear that from me....
  • by Skapare (16644) on Friday April 13, 2012 @03:31PM (#39678133) Homepage

    ... Beijing Police arrested a man believed to have shouted "Fire!" in the crowded downtown theatre where dozens of movie viewers were injured in the mad stampede to evacuate. Fortunately there were no deaths. Fire officials found no evidence there had been any fire, smoke, or any risk of a fire. A theatre official said the theatre is a modern one built to the utmost safety standards.

    • The government in response passed legislation that all citizens would have to wear microphones around their necks which would monitor everything they said. To prevent someone else from yelling out fire.

      Inquiries about whether the microphones would be used just to monitor words like "Fire" and not used to monitor political speech were met with uncontrollable laughter from the government spokesperson.
      • You're both right. There needs to be enough of a deterrent to minimize the chance of people from generating a mass panic, but not so much that even the smallest freedoms are stomped on. China's leadership isn't known for worrying too much about that second bit.
  • Chinese officials are probably mortified by the possibility that some day, Chinese citizens may band together/organize over the internet, and decide to have a spontaneous uprising or two of their own against the ruling authorities, just like happened in the Arab world. Seen through this prism, unwanted spreading of rumors with any potential political implications or "viral properties" may be seen as an "early sign" of people bonding/moving together online in spontaneous ways the authorities frown upon. Ther
    • Those fake persons are trying to destabilize governemnts everywhere, and for ages (literaly). The fact that their messages now come through the internet, and not through mail doesn't change that much.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wish China would moderate Youtube comments.

  • Take out the words China and Bejing in the summary and re-read it.

  • It's interesting how much more important the Chinese think rumors are. It's as though they want definitive information in circulation (where definitive herein means accepted/state sponsored). As though the population seeks rumors and gives them more importance.

    That differs from how the US handles rumors by creating other news that may contradict, obscure and drown out rumors. Americans have been desensitized to "sensationalist" type journalism whereas in China they seem to still react to it.

    The Chinese

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      Americans have been desensitized to "sensationalist" type journalism

      You mean like they recently did when the media tried to inflame public sentiment by portraying a Latino man as a "white hispanic" who shot an African American "boy" (that was 17 and well over 6 feet tall)? Americans are still very much caught up in sensationalist journalism. It's pretty much all you see nowadays.

  • "Beatings will continue until morale improves"
  • The Chinese government does not engage in censorship and detainment of people saying it engages in censorship and detainment. Nor does it deny that it does so. To say otherwise is a complete fiction!

  • Free speech stuff (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Alex Belits (437) *

    The only reason you think, free speech is so important, is that media promotes it for its own selfish purposes such as advertisement revenue and access to politicians. There are plenty of things that have far greater effect on everyone's life, and they are perceived as insignificant because media doesn't run a continuous propaganda campaign for them.

    • by Zagnar (722415)
      Pardon, sir, but free speech might just be the most important thing in a democracy. People vote based upon opinions formed from knowledge. If there is no free speech, there is no free dissemination of knowledge. I can't speak for China but here in America, it is a necessity. I'm quite vexed as to how someone with such a low UID came to have such odd opinions.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      Free speech is the only way to let the marketplace of ideas choose the best one.

      • by Alex Belits (437) *

        Oh yeah, let's expand the use of "free market" bullshit to determine what is true.

        • by Hatta (162192)

          That's a classical analogy, but it could be rephrased in terms of memetic competition if that makes you more comfortable.

          • by Alex Belits (437) *

            That analogy is bullshit, and there are plenty of persistent memes (such as religions, racism) that are completely wrong.

    • by poity (465672)

      I invite you to make this same post entitled "Free speech stuff", which belittles free speech in favor of some other unspecified right, in future threads about copyright, OWS, wikileaks, net neutrality, etc. Well-reasoned thought should be able to assert itself in any context.

      • by Alex Belits (437) *

        OWS is not speech, it's civil disobedience and petitioning the government. Most people still don't even know, what exactly the protesters' demands were.
        Wikileaks got no benefit from free speech protection, they had to shield themselves from governments and other entities whose information they distributed, by hiding abroad.
        Copyright infringement, no matter how stretched definition of copyright is used, never was successfully defended as a free speech issue.

        I think, my position is just fine with those things

    • by poity (465672)

      Free speech is a right like any other. There is no such thing as a "more important right" or "less important right", they are equally so. To think less of one is to invite abuse upon it. Perhaps that's what we're seeing -- if people in China place greater value upon their lives and their ability to do business and make money within the Chinese system than on the right to speech, then things like this are able to occur as they are.

      • by Alex Belits (437) *

        Go, read Universal Declaration of Human Rights. THOSE are actual rights most of mankind believes to be important, yet no government in history managed to implement all of them even at a basic level. There is always picking, choosing and priorities.

        Oh, and don't even bother referring to your stupid Bill of Rights, it didn't even keep US from practicing slavery.

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday April 13, 2012 @05:06PM (#39679447) Homepage

    A vague rumor of "Military vehicles in Beijing" is a bit much. At least one web site is pairing that rumor with a stock shot of Chinese tanks on parade. [radio86.com] The crackdown was a dumb move that gave the rumor credibility.

    There is something big going on, though. China is about to have a major change in leadership, but China doesn't have an reliable way to pick its national leaders. There's a power struggle within the Party each time this happens. It's only happened three times since Mao, and the first two produced the Great Leap Forward disaster and the Cultural Revolution. The third, in 1992, went smoothly. Governments all over the world are watching this closely. Nobody knows who will be running China a year from now.

    This year, seven of the nine Standing Committee members are retiring. One of the anointed successors, Bo Xilai, has been arrested on murder charges. [wsj.com] This has thrown the succession process into confusion. The South China Morning Post (out of Hong Kong) says this was a "liberal coup". This followed rumors of a coup last month, [huffingtonpost.co.uk] a coup which didn't happen. (In general, coups that are predicted don't happen - they require surprise.)

    The Chinese government is desperately trying to prevent public involvement in the succession process. China does not have real elections. So "public involvement" means riots or civil wars. Historically, those have changed governments. So the Party is trying to keep the lid on.

  • Creating rumors, spreading rumors, and listening to rumors are treason, Citizen. Please report such rumors to Your Friend the Computer immediately! Thank you for your cooperation.

    Stay Alert! Trust no one! Keep your laser handy! [archive.org]

  • Why does China bother even announcing it? Seems that if China was truly evil, it would just silently delete the posts, block the sites, maybe break some activist knee-caps. Must be that their elite and mainstream population is on board with censorship and the government is letting them know that something's being done about it. If the censorship was wildly unpopular there, any announcement would defeat the purpose of quelling protest.

"Someone's been mean to you! Tell me who it is, so I can punch him tastefully." -- Ralph Bakshi's Mighty Mouse

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